Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Story of Jack-O-Lantern

Well,,,,you all know that part of my heritage is from the Emerald Isles.....and a part of my heritage that I feel so very connected to. My dear, beloved Mother shared with us the magic of Ireland in stories, amazingly woven, stories throughout my childhood.

When I hear Gaelic, I feel so at peace, like I'm where I should be. When the Gaelic comes to me in song, I feel transported across the ocean to a home I have never been too, but one that I know I need to go.

So since today is Halloween and we are going to carve our pumpkins in a little bit, I thought I'd share with you all the history to why we carve pumpkins on All Hallows Day.


The Jack-O'-Lantern was brought to North America by Irish immigrants. According to the legend, Jack was a mean, miserly drunk. Jack was smart enough, however, to entice the Devil into climbing an apple tree so he could help himself to the juicy apples near its top.

As soon as the Devil climbed the tree, Jack cut a sign of the cross into the tree, thus preventing the Devil from climbing down again. Jack then extracted promise from the Devil that he would never try to take Jack's soul.

When Jack died, he tried to get into Heaven but he was turned away because he had been such a mean drunk during his lifetime. Jack then went to the gates of Hell, looking for a place where he could spend all eternity. True to his word, the Devil refused him entry.

Jack asked the Devil where he was to supposed to go now. The answer he received was, “Back where you came from!” Since it was a dark night and Jack had a long journey ahead of him, the Devil gave Jack a lit coal from the fires of Hell.

Jack took the coal and put it inside a turnip, which he was carrying at the time. He used this unusual lantern to help him find his way.

Ever since that day, poor Jack has been doomed to roam the Earth, searching in vain for a place to rest.

Children in Ireland carved potatoes and turnips to make lanterns to be used on Hallowe'en night. When large numbers of Irish immigrants settled in America as a result of the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1850), they started using pumpkins for this purpose and so our familiar Hallowe'en tradition of the Jack-O'-Lantern came into existence.

So there you have it!!!!! Now when you see a carved pumpkin, you'll think of poor Jack who wanders aimlessly, being neither accepted at the gates of heaven or hell.


Jeanne said...

I enjoyed this very much!

Miranda said...

Neat story! I knew pumpkin caring evolved from turnip carving, but i didn't know about Jack. Thanks for the Info!